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In Elderly, Algorithm Helps Reduce Number of Medications

Approach suggested discontinuing 58 percent of drugs; not linked to significant adverse events

THURSDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A tool known as the Good Palliative-Geriatric Practice algorithm can help safely reduce the use of medications in community-dwelling elderly individuals, according to research published in the Oct. 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Doron Garfinkel, M.D., of the Shoham Geriatric Medical Center in Pardes Hana, Israel, and Derelie Mangin, M.B.Ch.B., of the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, analyzed data from 70 participants -- mean age 82.8 -- whose medication use was reviewed with the algorithm, which the researchers presented in the article.

The researchers found that participants used an average of 7.7 medications. Based on the algorithm, a trial discontinuation was suggested for 311 medications (58 percent of all medications) in 64 subjects. Subsequently, 256 of these medications were discontinued, and 88 percent of the subjects reported improved health. Only six of the 256 medications were later resumed because of symptom recurrence. No significant adverse events or deaths were thought to be due to the discontinuation.

"Polypharmacy itself should be conceptually perceived as 'a disease,' with potentially more serious complications than those of the diseases these different drugs have been prescribed for," the authors write.

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